Sunday, February 26, 2006

It Takes An Einstein ...

Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) is run a little bit longer than previously. Some trainers do not like this added ground, 1 3/8 miles to 1 7/16 miles. If one was not paying any attention in his 4th grade math class because he was too busy doodling cartoons or shooting spitballs onto the ceiling, I can understand the source of frustration. This requires a change of the common denominator in order to calculate the added distance. Because I am a laboratory professional, i.e., a scientist, I will happily review the mathematical conversion involved in this calculation. "1 3/8" is the same as "1 6/16" which is the same as "22/16" and thus we can subtract that value from the "1 7/16" or the "23/16" in which we can determine that the increase in the turf race was "1/16".

It doesn't exactly take an Einstein to figure this out.

And Einstein (Brz) had no problem with this conversion whatsoever. And I should also note that Helen Pitts is a genius.

Upon review of the past performances prior to the race, I thought that Helen Pitts was asking a lot of Einstein. A huge jump in class, from allowance to Grade I. Racing against the likes of Mustanfar and Gun Salute. Stretching out from 9 furlongs ... oh rats, there's that math thing again ... hmmm ... 1 1/8 converts to 1 2/16 which would ... hmmm ... 5/16 miles extra ... hmmm ... attempting to convert to furlongs ... did not pay attention that day in math. However, I had touted Helen Pitts in a previous post and I should have had a lot more confidence in her when I approached the mutuel windows yesterday. This Einstein would have boxed the trifecta instead of wheeling Einstein into the 2nd and 3rd slots.

And speaking of Einsteins, what was Dallas Keen thinking entering a maiden into the Southwest Stakes?

Friday, February 24, 2006

What's In Your Wallet?

I have few complaints regarding my gender. As a woman, I have a wonderful career. I enjoy nuturing my delightful children. I am no longer required by proper etiquette to wear a girdle. I can vote. I can drive a car. I can drive a car really fast, get pulled over by a nice police officer, act like a dumb blonde that couldn't recognize her speedometer from a refrigerator magnet, and get off with just a warning.

But I hate lugging around my purse.

My first few ventures to the track, I opted to carry only my Daily Racing Form and a small yet amply-supplied wallet. Then one discovers that a couple of pens would be handy. How about some scratch paper to jot down the wagers? Well, if you have to bring scratch paper, why not the shopping list, too, and then you can just stop by the supermarket on your way home from the track. Oh, better pack your cell phone, just in case somebody thinks of something to add to that shopping list, or requires some sort of information of how to get Sharpie stains out of the carpet. Well, in that case, you might was well just use a handy-dandy tote bag and just stick your Form in there as well. OK. But where do I place my wallet?

Last Saturday, I won the final Pick 3 at Gulfstream. I like to bet the exotic wagers on the "cheap" side, so once in a while I'll wager $4 on the P3 wheel. After reading Eddie Mac's Saturday Picks, I was swayed into this direction. I wheeled La Dolce Vita in the 9th and Smokey Glacken in the Hurricane Bertie. The 11th race, a Md 62500 turf route, could go in any direction. And in a crunch for time to place my wager, I singled Reigning Emerald, a Mott-trained filly that I remembered from a race last month, where she ran a very respectable second vs. MSW.

And that P3 ticket went into my wallet.

And that P3 ticket, which is now worth $81.50, is still in my wallet.

A good day at the track? Yes. But it will be a better day at the track next time, when I dig into my handy-dandy tote bag, reach around the shopping list, pens, and chapstick, fish out my wallet, and retrieve my winning P3 ticket.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Cries of Protest are Deafening ... well, maybe, kind of, okay , not really

I feel that it is my duty, as a pseudo-journalist-turf-writer-wannabe, to comment on the most recent and important issue to hit the horse racing industry since Toby "Spider-man" Maguire hosted the Eclipse Awards. And it is an issue that I'm sure that will serve as a lightning rod. I suspect "they" are organizing protests and marches in Deaf Smith County, Texas, in support of the voice of leadership ... the voice of sound reasoning and moral values ... the voice of "Save Our Animals!" ... the voice of Pamela Anderson!

As reported in the Blood-horse, according to the Associated Press,
Pamela Anderson is boycotting the Kentucky Derby. The 38-year-old actress, who is an animal rights activist, says her opposition to animal cruelty in all its forms means she can never go back to the famed horse race.
Apparently, she is part of PETA, not to mention a former Baywatch babe, and former wife of Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, that would include some kind of so-called video out there on the internet, although, I myself, an upstanding member of the community, have not observed this so-called video.

What I find so distressing about this boycott is that I'm sure that many Yum! brand products will be burned in protest at various fraternity houses across the country. Empty Pizza Hut cartons and empty barrels of KFC will be tossed into the burning protest pyres on the first Saturday of May, with shouts of, "Pamela! You are the one! Whoohoo!"

PETA, schmeta. In my non-professional opinion, it is not an issue of "animal cruelty" at stake with the Yummy Kentucky Derby, but rather one of jealousy and envy. Bottom line - you have a horse that you want to win the most prestigious horse race in the world, and a truckload of money to boot; that horse will not be neglected nor mistreated in anyway. AND, in the future, the horse will make LOTS OF MONEY just having a lot of ... (ahem) sex, unless of course,the horse is Funny Cide. What's the going rate these days, anyway? Smarty Jones costs $100 G. Afleet Alex (who was 3rd in the Kentucky Derby) is $40 G. Who wouldn't be envious of that payroll for the aforementioned post-racing "business"?

But it should be noted, that as a member of PETA who is busy protesting horse racing, Pamela should probably protest really important stuff. Organizations that allow testing of silicone implants into animals to ensure the safety for human use, or testing on animals with hair-bleaching chemicals to ensure human use, or the American Kennel Club that allows whippets to run around JFK airport without the appropriate boarding passes, or at the very least, proper leashes.

According to the story, Churchill Downs spokesman, John Asher said that he regrets that Pamela Anderson will not be coming back to the big race. And that they would welcome her back, or something or other. My rebuttal to John Asher, "Do you really want to welcome her back? And if not, could I have her seat?"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Venting Frustration

Frustration is running rampant around here lately. It seems as though I have sat down to write a blog entry at least 4,372 times over the past three days and there are continual interruptions: children requiring nourishment and/or bed time stories, a husband questioning me as to why our Target bill was so high last week ("Honey, Korbel was on sale for only $8.50 a bottle!"), contractors and painters and the bugman trooping in and out of the house. There's some frustration in Torino ... Michelle Kwan grabbed her blades and said, "Ciao!", spectators at the luge run actually missed the event because they blinked, and a small contingency of people somewhere in Boone County, Iowa, are complaining that NBC isn't televising women's curling in primetime.

But my biggest source of frustration was Saturday, the Appleton Handicap.

It was a great race to sort out and handicap. And I clearly loved 4 horses, led by Host (Chi). That beast had put a substantial amount of money in my purse last year and had always proved reliable. Would you care to guess the other three horses? Gulch Approval, Drum Major, and Old Dodge (Brz). And this is where frustration, futility and a self-imposed challenge lands directly on my lap and the opportunity is ignored altogether. I'm not a big fan of the 3 horse exact box. Don't ask me why. A $1 box of three horses is only $6. But there is something I just can't bring myself to do. Why can't I spend the extra $2? I prefer to wager $2 2 horse exacta box, or a wheel. So I piddled around with various combinations, and wheels, and everything else. But good ol' reliable Host was always in the mix. Ouch. The race finished 4-10-1 ... Gulch Approval, Old Dodge, and Drum Major. It was painful. Aaargh!

However, there were a couple of other notable races that ran as expected but were not profitable. Achilles of Troy won the Whirlaway in Aqueduct. The competition seemed a little light. According to quotes from trainer Jennifer Pederson, Achilles of Troy is off to Florida and may show up in the Fountain of Youth. Which will be handy, because I will be there too. Maybe I will take it upon myself and have a little girl chat with Ms. Pederson. I don't know what that means, but it sounded good when I wrote it. That reminds me of the story of my friend, Suzanne. She met Celine Deion in Las Vegas and the only thing that Suzanne could think of saying was, "I saw you on Oprah!" I wonder if Jennifer Pederson has been on Oprah? Come to think of it, I'm not sure if Oprah even likes horse racing, which would be a little disappointing since she resides in Chicago and could go out to Arlington Park.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Scribble Pad Review

When the weekend approaches, I, like a zillion other horse racing enthusiasts, handicappers, and savory or maybe not-so-savory bookies, are reviewing the race cards and finding the 'good' races. I usually find some scratch piece of paper, more often times that not, a crayon-scribbled page from a discarded Care Bears coloring book, and jot down the races that I plan to watch, wager, and perhaps put some winnings into my childrens' college funds.

Well, the scratch piece of paper and I did not make it to Lone Star Park. It's known that occassionally life happens, i.e., washing machines overflow, work calls you in, 4-year-olds announce that they had an "accident", etc. So, this evening I reviewed my races and compared them to my planned wagers. There are two possible outcomes to this methodology in horseplaying: (1) a sigh of relief as I'm 1 for 15 and I saved some money, or (2) a river of tears because I did not cash in on a winning trifecta. Today, the outcome was the first one.

But I hit one win right on the head. In an earlier post, I had touted Misty Rosette as a very good-looking filly. Of course, she was my selection for the Old Hat Stakes on Saturday, and won as the fourth betting choice, paying $12.40. Her trainer, James Chapman, is apparently aiming for the Kentucky Oaks. After I patted myself on the back for about 10 minutes, I came to the conclusion that for the past three years, I have easily selected the winners for the Old Hat. Okay, Maddelena and Madcap Escapade weren't exactly longshots the past two years. But nonetheless, I own this race. How's that for egocentricity!

Another horse that I have been watching and have anxiously waited for his return was Blazing Rate. He had previsouly beat In Summation at Calder. Although In Summation did not hit the board in either the Aventura or the Sunshine Million Dash Stakes in Santa Anita,I had hopes for Blazing Rate. Good thing I didn't tout him on Friday as I note that he came in last in the Hutcheson. I would have had him in an exacta box with First Samurai. I'll continue to watch this guy. It was first off the layoff and in the slop.

And speaking of slop, rain, and racing at Gulfstream, here's hoping that our buddy, Patrick, had a great trip to Miami!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kentucky Derby Futurama, Part I

Okay, folks. Raise your hands if you made a wager in the Kentucky Derby Futures.

Not me. No way. I didn’t make a wager because it seems a little difficult so early in the year to gauge the potential field. And I also think that it is tantamount to a sucker bet. The horses that have clearly demonstrated their talents such as First Samurai and Stevie Wonderboy offer no value for a future wager so early in the year (7-1 and 8-1 respectively). And intriguingly enough, horses that haven’t run since last spring, like Half Ours (33-1), have shorter odds than horses that are already stakes winners in 2006. El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner, Cause to Believe has final odds of 59-1. Aventura winner, Doctor Dechard has final odds of 68-1. Apparently, all the Steve “This is the Year” Asmussen believers are on the Private Vow (14-1) bandwagon, and are ignoring the talented Doc.

Then of course, there is the favored at 3-1 – All Other 3YO’s . Some yahoo in Vegas bet $10,000 on this betting interest. Really folks. If you truly think that Catcominatcha is going to duplicate his Iroquois (gr. III) win and subsequently win the 2006 Kentucky Derby, don’t you think that you can get better odds on him on May 6th?

Admittedly, there were a couple of “prospects” that I might have willingly plunked down a couple of bucks so early in the year. The final odds for Achilles of Troy were at 26-1, with the payoff being $54.40 should he win the Kentucky Derby. He looked quite impressive winning the Count Fleet. Lawyer Ron, at 21-1 (payoff at $44.00) seemed also like a realistic possibility after watching his last two races.

But it’s still early in the year. Plenty of horses haven’t even made their 2006 debut. Although the first pool did not look too inviting, I usually have a tendency to dive into the second pool.